Opinion: More Women’s Voices Needed in Positions of Power

Power
Heather R. Mizeur, left, is a Democratic candidate for Maryland's 1st congressional district, and Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) is running for comptroller in Maryland. Courtesy photos.

Both 2018 and 2020 were record-breaking years of women running for and being elected to political office. In fact, my mom was among those women, running for the Democratic Central Committee in my district.

Seeing headlines that celebrated the record-breaking success of women and hearing stories about the women who ran, it’s understandable to think that women are being represented, or at least we are going in the right direction. But then I look at Maryland, where the representatives, the senators and the governor are men.

As a young woman who just reached voting age, I’m shocked that a state such as Maryland does not demonstrate gender representation. I’m troubled that women’s voices are not heard in positions of power. I’m concerned for the young girls who cannot see themselves in Maryland leadership.

It’s not that I don’t support any male candidates — I do. And it’s not that I would vote for a woman over a man solely based on gender — I wouldn’t. But we need some gender representation.

We need some gender representation so that the views of over half of Maryland’s population are represented in Congress. We need some representation to change the dynamic of politics and bring different approaches to legislating. We need some representation to inspire and encourage more political engagement by young women and girls. We need some representation to bring our democracy closer to reflecting the views of our communities.

Achieving more gender representation would benefit our state by bringing different and unique ideas, experiences and perspectives that capture all Marylanders, and addressing the challenge of the lack of gender representation is not one for women alone. Looking ahead to 2022, there are actions we can all take to increase gender representation.

We can support women candidates in congressional and state races, and there certainly are many qualified and inspiring women candidates in impactful races.

I’m supporting Heather R. Mizeur running for Congress in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District. If elected, she would be the first woman to represent the 1st District and would be the only woman in Maryland’s congressional delegation.

I’m also supporting Brooke E. Lierman, who, if elected, would be the first woman comptroller in our state.

We can pressure PACs and other gatekeepers to vocally and financially endorse women candidates and encourage elected officials to endorse women candidates. We can advocate for ranked-choice voting, as recently seen in New York City’s mayoral race. Ranked-choice voting provides more options, saves money and creates more competitive races where incumbents don’t have a guaranteed win — all factors which would create more opportunities for diverse and representative candidates.

Finally, we can call people’s attention to the lack of gender representation in Maryland and beyond and the positive impacts of bringing more voices to the halls of power. By doing so, gender representation will be an important consideration when people cast their ballots in 2022.

It certainly will be for me when I vote for the first time.

–FIONA GALLAGHER 

The writer is a resident of Rockville.